Tuesday, December 12

Genesis 41-45

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Pharaoh’s Two Dreams

     41[1-4] Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. In his dream he saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and feed in the grass. Then he saw seven more cows come up behind them from the Nile, but these were weak and skinny. These cows stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank. Then the weak and skinny cows ate all the seven healthy, fat cows! Then Pharaoh woke up.

     [5-7] But he fell asleep again and had another dream. This time he saw seven heads of grain, plump and good, all growing on one stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were dried-up and shrunken by the east wind. And these thin heads swallowed up the seven plump, good heads! Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was a dream.

     [8-13] In the morning, Pharaoh was very upset by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, no one could tell him what they meant. Finally, the ruler’s chief cup-bearer spoke up, saying, “I’m reminded of my fault, today. When you were angry with the chief baker and me, and you imprisoned us in the great house of the captain of the guard, one night the chief baker and I each had a dream, and each dream had a different meaning. There was a young Hebrew man with us in the prison who was a slave of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he told us what each of our dreams meant. And everything happened just as he had predicted. I was restored to my place as cup-bearer, and the chief baker was killed and hung on a pole.”

     [14-16] Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the prison. He shaved and changed his clothes, and then went in to the Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one can tell me what it means. But I’ve heard that you can understand a dream and explain it.” Then Joseph said, “It’s not in my power, but God will tell you what it means and give you peace.” 

     [17-24] So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream, saying, “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, and I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and feed in the grass. But then I saw seven sick-looking cows, weak and skinny, come up after them, such sorry-looking animals as I’ve ever seen in all the land of Egypt. These thin, skinny cows ate the seven fat cows, but no one would have known it, for they were still as skinny as before! Then I woke up. Then I fell asleep again, and I had another dream. This time I saw seven heads of grain, plump and good, all growing on one stalk. Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were dried up and shrunken by the east wind. And the thin heads swallowed the seven good heads. Then I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean.”

     [25-32] Then Joseph answered, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has shown Pharaoh what’s about to happen. Both the seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain are seven very good years. The seven weak and skinny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain dried up by the east wind are seven years of no harvest. This will happen just as I’ve told you, for God has shown Pharaoh what’s about to happen. For seven years there will be a time of great plenty throughout the land of Egypt, but afterward there will be seven years of no harvest, and all the plenty will be forgotten in Egypt. A great famine will ruin the land. So all the good years will be forgotten because of the seven years following them, the famine will be so terrible. And the dream was repeated twice to Pharaoh because it’s God’s doing and it’s going to happen very soon.

     [33-36] “So, you, Pharaoh, should find an understanding and smart man and put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then you should set supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. Have them gather all the food in the good years that are coming and store it in the cities under your control. Then that food will be saved for the seven years of no harvests that are coming to the land of Egypt and the land will be saved.”

Joseph Made Ruler Over Egypt

     [37-40] So Pharaoh and all his officials liked what Joseph had said. Then Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this, a man who has the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown all this to you, no one else is as understanding or as smart as you’re. You’ll be ruler of my house, and all my people will be ruled by whatever you say. Only I will be greater than you because I sit on the throne.”

     [41-44] Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I’ve put you in control of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from off his hand and put it on Joseph’s finger. He gave him fine linen clothes and a gold chain was hung around his neck. Then he had Joseph ride in the second chariot following his and they shouted out as he went, “Bow down on your knees!” So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over all of Egypt and Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, and no one will lift a hand or a foot in the whole land of Egypt without your saying so.”

     [45-49] Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a new Egyptian name, Zaphenath-paneah. He also gave him a wife, Asenath, who was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. So Joseph was the overseer of the whole land of Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt. And when Joseph left from the Pharaoh’s court, he went and looked over the whole land of Egypt. And for seven years the land produced bountiful crops. So Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt in the first seven years and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. The amount of grain that Joseph gathered was like the sand on the seashore, too much to count.

     [50-57] Before the years of no harvests came, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. Joseph named his older son Manasseh, and said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim, and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my troubles.” Then the seven years of good crops in the land of Egypt ended and the seven years of no crops began, just as Joseph had said. The crops died in all the surrounding countries as well, but there was still food in Egypt. When the crops failed throughout all the land of Egypt, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. So Pharaoh told them, “Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you to do.” The lack of food was everywhere, so Joseph opened up the storehouses and sold the grain to the Egyptians, for all the crops had failed throughout the land of Egypt. And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the crops had failed in all the surrounding countries.

Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

     42[1-5] When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you just looking at one another? I’ve heard there’s grain in Egypt, so go down there, and buy grain so that we will live and not die.” So Joseph’s ten older brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. But Jacob didn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, saying, “Something bad might happen to him.” So Jacob’s sons went to Egypt along with the other people who were going to buy food, because the crops had failed in Canaan.       

     [6-10] Since Joseph was ruler over all of Egypt and sold the grain to all the people, his brothers came to him and bowed down with their faces to the ground in front of him. Joseph recognized his brothers, but he acted like a stranger and spoke to them harshly. Joseph asked, “Where are you from?” So they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.” Though Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them, so he said to them, “You’re all spies! You’ve come to see how bare our land is.”

     [10-13] They said to him, “No, Pharaoh! Your servants have come to buy food. We’re all brothers, the sons of one man. We’re honest men and not spies!” But Joseph said, “Yes, you’re! You’ve come to see how bare our land is.” So they said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is with our father now, and one isn’t with us anymore.”

     [14-17] But Joseph said again, “As I said, you’re spies! So I’ll test you in this way. By the life of Pharaoh, you’ll never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! One of you must go and get him and the rest of you will be kept here in prison to find out whether or not what you say is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if not, then I’ll know you’re spies.” So Joseph put them all in prison together for three days.

     [18-20] On the third day Joseph said to them, “I know God. If you do what I say, you’ll live. If you’re honest men, choose one of your brothers to stay here in prison. The rest of you, go and carry grain to your hungry families. When you bring your youngest brother back to me, this will prove that you’re telling the truth, and you’ll not die.” And they did so. 

     [21-24]Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we’re guilty for what we did to Joseph. We saw how upset he was when he begged us, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.” Then Reuben asked, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy and you wouldn’t listen? And now we have to pay for his blood!” They didn’t know that Joseph understood them, because he used an interpreter to speak to them. Joseph turned away from them and cried. Then he came back and spoke to them again. Then he took Simeon from among them and had him tied up right in front of them. 

     [25-28] Then Joseph ordered his servants to fill their sacks with grain, and to put each brother’s money back in the top of his sack and to give them supplies for their journey home. So they loaded their donkeys with grain and left there. But when they camped for the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey, and saw his money in the top of his sack. So he said to his brothers, “My money has been put back in my sack!” Then their hearts sank and they said to one another, “What has God done to us?”

     [29-34] When they came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them, saying, “The man who’s ruler of the land spoke very harshly to us and said we were spies in the country. But we said, ‘We’re honest men, not spies. We’re twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’ Then the man who’s ruler of the land told us, “If you’re honest men, choose one of your brothers to stay here in prison. The rest of you, go and carry grain to your hungry families. When you bring your youngest brother back to me, this will prove that you’re telling the truth, and you’ll not die. Then I’ll give your brother back to you, and you may trade freely in the land.’”

     [35-38] Then as they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! When they and their father saw them, they were all very scared. Then Jacob said to them, “You’re taking all my children away from me! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!” Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my own two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. If you put him in my hands, I’ll bring him back to you.” But Jacob said, “My son won’t go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he’s the only one left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you’d bring my gray-hair down to the grave in sorrow.”

The Brothers Go Back to Egypt

     43[1-5] The lack of food continued throughout the land of Canaan. When the grain they had brought from Egypt was gone, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said, “The man strongly warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you send Benjamin with us, we’ll go down and buy more food. But if you don’t let him go, we won’t go. The man said to us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

     [6-10] Then Israel said, “Why did you do me so wrong and tell him you had another brother?” So they said, “The man clearly asked about us and our family, asking, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered him honestly. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here?’” Then Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we’ll go, so we’ll all live and not die both you and us, and our little ones. I will personally keep him safe. You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you, and I will be the blame forever. If we hadn’t waited all this time, we would have gone and come back the second time by now.”

     [11-14] So their father, Jacob, said to them, “If it must be this way, then do this. Pack some of the best fruits of this land. Take them as a gift for the man. Take some balm, and a little honey, some spices, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Also take double the money of what was put back in your sacks, as it might have been a mistake. Take your brother, too, and go back to the man. May God Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he’ll release Simeon and Benjamin, too. But if I must lose them, then I lose them.”

     [15-18] So the men packed the gifts and Benjamin and took double the money. When they got to Egypt they went to Joseph. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the manager of his household, “Take these men to my home and then go kill an animal and cook it. These men will eat with me at noon.” So the man did as Joseph told him and took them into Joseph’s house. The brothers were very afraid when they saw that they were being taken into Joseph’s house. They said, “It’s because of the money that was put in our sacks the first time we were here, so that he can accuse us and take us, to make us slaves, and take our donkeys.”

A Feast at Joseph’s Great house

     [19-25] So the brothers went to the manager of Joseph’s house and spoke to him at the doorway to the great house, saying, “Sir, we came to Egypt once before to buy food. But as we were going back home, we camped for the night and opening our sacks we found each man’s money, the full price, in the top of his sack! We have brought it back with us, and have more money to buy food. We don’t know who put our money in our sacks.” So the household manager told them “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, put the treasure into your sacks. I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to meet them. He brought them into Joseph’s great house and gave them water to wash their feet and fed their donkeys. Then they got their gifts ready for Joseph, because they had been told they would eat with him at noon. 

Joseph Comes at Noon.

     [26-31] When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed down on the ground to him. Then he asked how they were doing and asked, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?” So they said, “Yes, our father, your servant, is doing well and still alive.” And they bowed down again. Then Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother, and asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? May God be gracious to you, my son.” Then Joseph was about to cry because he had wanted to see his brother for a long time, so he quickly looked for a place to cry. He went to his room, and cried there. After washing his face, he came back out, keeping control of himself and said, “Serve the meal!”

     [32-34] So they served Joseph at his own table, his brothers at another table, and the Egyptians who ate with Joseph sat at their own table. The Egyptians couldn’t eat with Hebrews because it wasn’t right to them. So they sat where Joseph told them to, and were amazed that he had seated them according to their age, from oldest to youngest. Then Joseph took their plates to them, filled with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave the rest of them. So they drank and enjoyed themselves with him.

Joseph’s Silver Cup

     44[1-2] Joseph told the manager of his house, “Fill each of their sacks with as much grain as they can carry, and put each man’s money back into the top of his sack. Then put my own silver cup at the top of my youngest brother’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” So the manager did what Joseph told him.

     [3-5] At dawn the brothers were sent on their way with their loaded donkeys. But when they had left the city and had gone only a little way, Joseph said to the manager, “Chase after them and when you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Why have you stolen my master’s silver cup, which he drinks from and uses to tell the future? You’ve done an evil thing!’”

     [6-10] When the manager caught up with them, he said to them what he had been told. “Why would he say such a thing?” the brothers answered. “We would never do such a thing! Didn’t we bring back the money we found in our sacks from the land of Canaan? Then how could we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? Let the man die who has your master’s cup, and all the rest of us will be his slaves.” So the manager said, “It will be as you say, but only the one who stole the cup will be my master’s slave and the rest of you may go free.”

     [11-13] Quickly they all put their sacks down on the ground and opened them. He searched all their sacks, from the oldest to the youngest and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then the brothers were so upset that they tore their clothes and loaded their donkeys again and went back to the city.

     [14-17] Joseph was still in his house when Judah and his brothers got there, so they fell to the ground at his feet. Then Joseph said to them, “What have you done? Don’t you know that a man like me can tell the future?” Then Judah answered, “What can we say to you? What words can we say to clear ourselves? God has found out our sins, so we have all come back to be your slaves, both us and the one who had your cup.” Then Joseph said, “I’d never do that! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”

JudahSpeaks for His Brothers

     [18-23] Then Judah stepped up closer and said, “Please, let your servant have a word with you and don’t be angry with me, even though you’re like the Pharaoh himself. “You asked us, your servants, ‘Do you’ve a father or a brother?’ And we answered, ‘Yes, we have a father who’s an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’ “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ But we said to you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father, or his father would die.’ But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you’ll never see my face again.’

     [24-34] “So we went back to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us some more food,’ we said, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, and one of them went away and never came back. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I’ve never seen him since. Now if you take his brother away from me, and anything happens to him, you’ll send this gray-headed man with sorrow to his grave.’ “And now, I can’t go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life and if he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will in fact be responsible for sending that gray-headed man to his grave in sorrow. I promised my father that I’d take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I’ll take the blame forever.’ “So please, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the sorrow this would cause my father!”

Joseph Reveals His Identity

     45[1-3] Joseph couldn’t keep from crying in front of all the people in the room any longer so he cried out to his guards, “Make everyone leave me!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and word of it quickly came to Pharaoh’s great house. Then he said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers couldn’t say a word they were so shocked when they knew who he was.

     [4-8] And Joseph said, “Please, come closer to me.” So they came closer and he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me here. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to save lives. This lack of food that has hurt the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither planting nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to save you and your families for the future and to save your lives in a great way. So it was not you who sent me here, but God, who’s the One who made me a counselor to Pharaoh and the manager of his whole house and the ruler of all Egypt.

     [9-15] “Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me ruler over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me now and don’t wait! You can live in the land of Goshen, where you can be near me with all of your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. I’ll take care of you there, or you, your household, and all your animals will starve. There’s still five more years with a lack of food.” Then Joseph added, “Look! You and my brother Benjamin can see for yourselves that it is me who speaks to you! Go tell my father of all my fame and wealth here in Egypt. Tell him everything you’ve seen, and then quickly bring my father here.” Then he hugged Benjamin’s neck and cried, and Benjamin hugged his neck and cried. Then Joseph kissed all his brothers and cried over them, and after that they talked freely with him.

Pharaoh Invites Jacob to Egypt

     [16-20] The news soon reached Pharaoh’s great house: “Joseph’s brothers have come!” Pharaoh and his officials were very pleased to hear this. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals, and go back to the land of Canaan. Then get your father and all of your families, and come back here to me. I’ll give you the very best land in Egypt, and you’ll eat from the best of the land. Do this: Take wagons from the land of Egypt to carry your little children and your wives, and bring your father here. Don’t worry about all your things, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”

     [21-23] So the sons of Israel did as they were told. Joseph gave them with wagons, as Pharaoh had said, and supplies for the journey. And he gave each of them new clothes, but to Benjamin he gave five changes of clothes and 300 silver coins. He also sent his father ten male donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other food for his journey.

     [24-28] So Joseph sent his brothers off, and as they left, he called after them, “Don’t worry about all this along the way!” So they left Egypt and went back to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive! And he’s ruler of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob’s heart skipped a beat at the news, because he couldn’t believe it! But when they told Jacob everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw all the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirit revived. Then Israel said, “It’s enough that my son Joseph is still alive and I’ll go and see him before I die!”

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